Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Life Lived Artfully: Marilyn Wall

Marilyn Wall draws on her life's work and her favorite things to create art that makes us all breathe a sigh. The flowers from her garden never die once she has captured their beauty, as in this first photo:  Luminescent is fused applique, hand-dyed fabric, paint, thread painting and hand quilting.And her joyous Blue Atlas makes me want to try my own wings. The butterfly is actually a moth and is machine appliqued of hand-dyed fabric. The markings on the moth were fussy cut to achieve the desired effect. Marilyn used hand-dyed thread to quilt the moths in the background and used a big stitch.(See the second photo).

As you will see by the samples of her body of work, Marilyn is versatile as well as talented and most of all sees with her heart as well as her eyes. She also has a fun sense of humor! -- Dawn

I am a retired writer/photographer whose passion is fiber art. We moved to Lake Keowee, SC in 2004 and I would live nowhere else.

Most of my life, I have made art. Often the tools were different. I have created ever since I can remember.

First it was with a needle and thread. My first memory of sewing was as a young child. I had a chenille doll bedspread that I cut up and made into a bathrobe for my doll. During my school years I sewed most of my clothing and actually made clothing for other people as well.

After I became a mother I sewed for my four children, my husband and myself. My children love to look at photographs of that era and laugh at my poor son, Gary who had to wear striped bell-bottom pants. Hey! They were the style then.

While the children were young, I worked on many crafts, I knitted, cross-stitched, did needle point, and made a rug or two. However, I longed to be an artist. Mind you I didn’t know how to draw or paint, I had never shown any talent in this direction but the desire was there.

We lived in Meadville, PA at the time and someone told me about a teacher named, Marie Firster who could teach anyone how to paint, and she did.

Later my husband went to work for Michelin Tire Company and this job took us to France to live for about two years. I will forever be grateful to Michelin for the experience our family was able to share by living in a foreign country. Never would we have been able to fly a family of six to Europe and visit all the wonderful places we visited.

Later I took art classes in Greenville, SC and became enchanted with the camera. This led me to a job with a major construction/engineering company as a writer/photographer for their company newspaper. I traveled all over the US documenting construction projects and the people who built them.

(Photo: Flowerfly features cone flower and butterfly. Flowerfly: The technique for the flower was the same as Luminescent. I used a black on black printed fabric for the butterfly. This fabric proved beneficial, because the back was just as usable as the front, when I decided to make part of the butterflies wings 3-D. I painted the markings on the wings with pastels and used acrylic paint on the flower. This piece was machine quilted.)

After a move to Alabama, the first without children to get settled into a new school and no job I became quite bored. One day, while feeling very sorry for myself, a light bulb seemed to go off. I had wanted to learn to quilt for years and never had the time. Well, I had the time now. I found a lady who was willing to teach me the basics and once I put my first quilt together I was HOOKED. This was in July and by Christmas I had made three small bed quilts, two crib size quilts and several wall hangings. These were all hand quilted and two were hand pieced Tumbling Block quilts.

The following April I went to my first AQS show in Paducah, KY and saw my first art quilts. Never knew such art existed. I was smitten.

I tackled my first art quilt with no knowledge of technique, and just blundered my way through. When I show this quilt it is always a favorite with my audience. “Geraniums” is my interpretation of a photograph I took during our stay in France. (See photo) Geranium is hand appliqued on a background of half-square log cabin blocks. The sidewalk was made from the pointillist fabric from years ago. It was cut and pieced back together. Flowers were made in the technique of Fabric Origami and the leaves were sewn together and turned for a three-D effect

I continued on my journey, had a class here, a class there and have honed my technique. I started painting on my quilts many years a go to develop depth within the design. I teach my technique now in a class titled “Fabricating Nature”. One of my favorite places to teach is J.C. Campbell Folk School, in Brasstown, NC.

As a Master Gardner my preferred subject over the years has been flowers and the landscape. I have become very interested in portraiture and am presently working on a series of people I find interesting.

Frequently, I combine the tools I have used in the past in conjunction with my quilting. Often I go to my photographs for inspiration and ideas. Sometimes the images from my photographs find their way onto the fabric and become part of my quilt. Just as often, I may need to embellish my quilts with paints, dye or inks. (See photo of Oriental Lilies for different treatments of the same design)

My journey is far from being complete. I have much to learn and many more quilts to make. My desire is to make an impact on people when they view my work. That impact can be good or bad but I hope it is not indifference. My latest piece is a tribute to a friend who died  in July after a year of fighting esophageal cancer. I wanted to make something for his wife to console her in her loss: Jana's Guardian Angels. 

After establishing my design on paper I traced the pattern onto PDF fabric with an Ultra find Sharpie. I had to be very mindful while doing this to keep the ink from puddling. I had researched the word love and dog on the Internet for all the sayings. After filling in the sky background I started writing in the words. I then finished painting Bob and Skeeter. I choose a small 1/4" loose boarder to act as a matting to the outer boarder. It was hand quilted, using hand-dyed thread and silver thread..

Marilyn tells more about Bob's quilt in her Fabricating Nature blog.

She also steps away from nature now and then to capture faces and people in her Mother and Daughter quilt as pictured here.

Mother and Daughter was done in a class by Marilyn Belford at QBL (Quilting By the Lake) in July. It is basically the same technique I use for my flowers, fused applique. This photo is not of the finished piece. It is now attached to a landscape that can be seen on my blog.


Linda Cooper said...

Marilyn, your work is just beautiful. Thanks for sharing and Dawn, thanks for finding her. I'd love to take a class from you!

Marilyn Wall said...

Thanks Linda. Do you live near NC? I am teaching at John C Campbell Folk School (www.folkschool.org) in March and April.

Lisa Chin said...

Such beautiful work! Thank you for sharing.

Marilyn Wall said...

Thanks Lisa. I do love making these pieces so it is great when I get these comments.

Marilyn Wall said...

Thanks Lisa. I love making this art so it is good to have comments like this.